We’re taught by our parents early on that life isn’t always fair. That’s really all you could say or think yesterday watching Brian Roberts be helped off the field at the Trop in Tampa late in the Baltimore Orioles’ 6-3 win. With the O’s leading 6-2 and Roberts on first base he successfully stole second to get into scoring position. However he came up hurt after the play, grabbing at his right leg. The Orioles’ trainers were out there immediately, and Roberts was helped off the field without putting any weight on his right leg. Over the three years Roberts of course has only played in 115 games due to various injury problems; after working so hard to get all the way back, this has to be a huge blow for him. After the game the Orioles announced that Roberts had injured his lower hamstring, and would undergo an MRI today in Baltimore.
Losing Roberts is big, however the bigger news might have been that the Orioles won the game (and the series). The big story thus far of course is the hot bat of Chris Davis, who’s hit everything in sight. In the eighth inning of yesterday’s game when Davis recorded an out the Tropicana Field faithful actually gave a mock round of applause for Tampa getting him out. As had been the case all series, Davis started the scoring off (in this case with a moon shot of the two-run variety). Davis of on a pace to hit 162 home runs this year; we all know that’s not going to happen, but the fact is that he’s homered in every game of the series. In fact, he’s homered in four of his last five games at Tropicana Field dating back to last year. For a ballpark that’s noted for balls dying in the air, Chris Davis sure has found a stroke there!
Miguel Gonzalez made his first start of 2012, and looked superb. Gonzalez’s line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 4 K. In following the same pattern of the first two games, Tampa was able to tie it in the fifth, this time on a few hard-luck grounders up the middle that found holes. However Gonzalez battled on, and put his team in a position to win (which is all you can ask of a starter). True to form, the Orioles answered the bell in the sixth in the form of Chris Davis once again. With runners at first and second Davis sent a double to left center, scoring both Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. J.J. Hardy closed out the scoring from the Orioles’ standpoint with a two-run home run in the eighth…
…and the Orioles were cruising with a four-run lead. Closer Jim Johnson was called upon with nobody out and two on. Evan Longoria stepped to the plate and promptly sent a deep shot to left center, scoring Sean Rodriguez and sending Ben Zobrist to third. Immediately the hearts in Birdland fluttered a bit, however an out was recorded on that play in a manner that I’ve never seen in organized baseball, and I’m sure many others were in the same boat. According to the umpires, Longoria inadvertently passed Ben Zobrist on the base paths (near first base); if you go past a runner in front of you of course, you’re out. The replays were inconclusive at best, and while it appeared that Longoria might not have passed Zobrist, it’s also likely that it occurred while the cameras were not on the two. Tampa manager Joe Maddon argued the call for about five minutes, but to no avail. The putout was actually awarded to Chris Davis at first base since he was the closest Oriole to the play, and the game ended with the Orioles winning 6-3.
Speaking for myself I’ve always known that was a rule but I’ve never seen it happen. On the replays you can clearly see Longoria watching the ball and not the guy in front of him. Evan Longoria is one of the best players in MLB, but he made a very bad mental lapse in that case. From his perspective you can really only file it in the category of it happens…but it shouldn’t. As for Brian Roberts, you have to hope that he isn’t too badly injured. The Orioles seemed pretty sure that he’d be back; having pulled my hamstring previously I would say that the best case scenario for him would be a stint on the 15-day DL. However as I said, he’ll have an MRI this morning after which the Orioles will have a better idea of what they’re dealing with.
The O’s return home for their home opener this afternoon at 3 PM against the Minnesota Twins. Jake Arrieta will take to the mound for his third consecutive home opener start, and his second against Minnesota at that. He’ll be opposed by Liam Hendricks, who’s had impressive minor league numbers but has been inconsistent at the major league level. The Orioles will open Camden Yards at noon today, and all fans in attendance will receive a magnetic schedule and car magnet upon entry. Starting at 1:10 PM the BUCKle Up Birds video will be shown on diamondvision, and the pregame ceremony (hosted by MASN’s Jim Hunter) will begin at 2:30. As usual, the players will run through the center field gate on an orange carpet for pregame introductions, and J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters will receive their 2012 Rawlings Gold Gloves. Operatic tenor and Rockville, MD native Rolando Sanz will perform the National Anthem and God Bless America, and a 30′ x 42′ American flag from Ft. McHenry will be unfurled in center field. The colors will be presented by the United States Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington and the combined Honor Guard Team from the Baltimore City Police and Fire Departments.